Our Golden Books (and a Golden Book Giveaway)


Nothing zips me back in time faster than seeing the cover of a Golden Book I loved.


2017 marks the 75th anniversary of Golden Books, launched in October 1942 during World War II. With their small, uniform trim size, bright illustrations, and 25 cent price tag, they were a hit with kids and adults. For the first time, good books for children were for sale in grocery, drug, and department stores.


Some of the finest artists for children such as Alice and Martin Provensen, Richard Scary, Garth Williams, and Eloise Wilkin, illustrated Golden Books. Author Margaret Wise Brown, best known for Goodnight Moon, was a champion of Golden Books. Some children’s librarians and educators believed the books were too scant, too simplistic, and poorly printed. Brown disagreed. And she thought Golden Books were important because now all children could have their own books.


This was Cliff’s favorite. He might not want me to announce it to the world, but we discussed this book on our very first date!


And this was my favorite. I had a toy bunny I adored, so that’s perhaps why I loved this story. (My favorite page was the candy store page!) Baby Bunny wants to grow up to be, more than anything else, a daddy bunny. Now that’s a progressive thought coming from a time when sex roles were stricter.


Candy store page

Don’t miss this short video put together for the anniversary celebration.

My Golden Books are packed. They escaped downsizing and are coming with me to our new house.

What about you? Did you save your Golden Books? Do you have a favorite?

Boxed Set

Giveaway: In honor of the anniversary, I’m giving a away a boxed Golden Book set. Read more about the boxed set here. To enter the giveaway, simply post a comment by May 20. Thanks! (Comment link is at the bottom.)

Happy Birthday, Golden Books!



Sauerkraut Party: Here’s to Healthy Eating!

A guest post from my friend Gail Crane:

Growing up, I remember my mom opening a can of sauerkraut and heating it up for dinner. I didn’t like it and refused to eat it.  But I am significantly older now, and my tastes have changed along with my interest in healthier eating.  My stomach issues have led me to do research on ways to heal my stomach.  And that has led me to fermented foods.

Much is being published about how having a healthy gut is important for our overall health.  Eating fermented, probiotic foods—sauerkraut, yogurt, raw cheese, kimchi, natto, tempeh, miso, pickled vegetables and fruits and Kombucha—promotes gut health, which helps us have a stronger immune system.

So my friends Emily and Carol, who are also interested in eating healthier, and I decided to get together to make a batch of sauerkraut.  A sauerkraut party! Ok!  Lets get this party going! Get your hands in the bowl of cabbage and massage and squeeze!

Fermented sauerkraut is made with brine and not vinegar.  It really is very easy to make especially thanks to the many recipes online.

This is how we make our sauerkraut:

3 pounds purple or green organic cabbage (We used a combination of purple and green cabbage.)

1 ½ tablespoons of kosher or celtic sea salt

Shred or cut the cabbage and put into a large mixing bowl.  Add the salt and massage and squeeze the cabbage with your hands for approximately 10 minutes until the cabbage becomes watery and limp.

Next, put the cabbage into canning jars and pack it in tightly by pressing it down with your fist.  You want the cabbage to have some liquid covering it.  Then cover it with a leaf of the cabbage to keep it under the liquid.

Put the lids on the jars (not tight) and sit them in a pan or on a plate (the fermenting will cause them to overflow).  Let them sit out of direct sunlight and at a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees, and let the fermenting begin. We have found that it takes 2-3 weeks for the cabbage to taste fermented, but you can start tasting it sooner. Once fermented, tighten the lids and keep in the refrigerator for 2 months or longer.  Emily, Carol, and I like our sauerkraut cold instead of warmed up.

This was a very different type of party and a time of fun and conversation as we made a healthy food for ourselves and our families.  You should try it!  (Look up recipes online as they have a lot of necessary and helpful hints to make successful sauerkraut.)

Gail Crane is a long-time friend who is spending her retirement trying out lots of new ventures such as making fermented foods, mixing up her own skin care products, and learning to paint with acrylics with Barbara.


The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Cabo San Lucas!


In February, Cliff and I spent a week in Cabo, Mexico. We stayed in the more artsy town of San Jose del Cabo. We ventured by bus twice to nearby Cabo San Lucas, which my daughter Laura defines as “The Spring Break Place.”

We arrived at the Aeropuerto Internacional de Los Cabos, where I quickly snapped the ladies room door sign above. I love the colors and tiles and quirkiness of Mexican decor.

The Cabo Azul Resort is wonderful. Right on the water. The world’s friendliest waitstaff. Gorgeous pools. Excellent food. Just AVOID the fabulous free breakfast with the time share talk from eternity afterwards…

I admired the stone ladies room signs throughout the resort.


And the sinks.


We caught a Duke Basketball game at the Baha Brewing Company.



I admired the snazzy mule tiles in the stalls


And on the wall near the sinks.


Here are the bathroom signs at the Tropicana Inn, where we enjoyed dinner one evening.


Love these signs at La Pesca. Quite dramatic!

gentsI like the plain painted doors inside the ladies room at La Pesca too.


And the tiles.tiles

The whole place was funky and fun and the strawberry margarita hit the spot.

Laura told us not to miss a a restaurant on the beach in Cabo san Lucas called “The Office.” Here’s a sign that leads  to the potties.


And here are the bathroom doors.



These are the most artistic flushing instructions I’ve ever seen.


Look a the handle to a stall!

And check out the tiles on the wall inside the stall.

Another restaurant, La Galeria.


Never seen such fabulous pink walls.


But I wasn’t so sure about the cleaning supplies in the corner.


And I wonder if the dolls on the wall of the restaurant are living a good life, as far as doll lives go.


This was a first! On the way to the ladies room at Mi Casa, one of the waiters offered to take my picture next to these distinguished gentlemen.


The metal sign above the door.


Here’s the sign over the men’s room. I wonder what the exact message is here.


The metal handle on the stall in the ladies room.door-handle

The stall door.stall-door

Captain Tony’s on the harbor in Cabo san Lucas. I dont know if Ernest Hemingway traveled to Cabo, but it seemed like a bar he might have appreciated.




The famous Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas. Talk about colorful!


I tried to write FRIEND FOR THE RIDE with my ballpoint pen, but alas, it didn’t show up. Wish I’d had a marker with me.



I sure hope Sam had a good birthday!



That wraps up my Cabo edition of the Ladies Room Door Art Series.  The creative bathroom doors  I found reflect the whimsy and artistry of this spirited land.




Let’s not build walls…


My Cancer Story: Oncology Check

As an endometrial cancer survivor, I visit the oncologist once a year and six months later, the gynecologist. Although I wouldn’t dare skip one of these appointments, I do feel some apprehension before and during each check up.

I’m happy to step into UNC Hospital again though. The doctors and staff saved my life, and I’m grateful beyond measure. The hospital is nicely designed and decorated, and the food is good. My memories are joyful ones, especially the moment when I got the first pathology report.

Before my latest appointment a few weeks ago, I studied the brush strokes on this painting in the waiting room. Now that I’m taking an art class, I keep my eyes open for art education opportunities.

On to the check up.

The news was excellent: No sign of recurrence. I asked my doctor a round of questions because I like to get my money’s worth. (A visit to UNC Hospital is not cheap.) Then Cliff and I went for a celebratory lunch.

Since my news is happy news, let’s move to a more carefree topic. When you go to the doctor, and the nurse tells you to undress, do you climb on the table once you have on the drape or robe? Or do you wait in the chair?

In my younger days, I felt duty bound to climb on the table.  But that old table can be hard on the back while you wait. And wait. And wait.

So now I don’t get on the table until the doctor comes into the room.  I snapped this selfie to show you. (I’m glad the doc didn’t catch me taking it. None of my doctors has expressed any interest in my menopause blog. Why not? Who knows? A question for another day…)

Back to the question at hand. Table or chair?

Do tell!

To read more about endometrial cancer and my experience, check out the link at the top of the page or click here.  Endometrial cancer has a high cure rate, if caught early, and is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system. 


Art Class! (with My Friend Gail)

My mom was an artist. The first time I understood she had talent was when she drew a face in the sand for me at Ocean City, Maryland. Mom encouraged me to paint and draw. Although I liked it, I figured out early on that I have no real talent. I couldn’t add character to my faces in the sand like Mom could.

But something came over me a year or so ago. Our local senior center offers a class in acrylic painting that meets Tuesday afternoons. My friend Gail agreed to take the class with me, and we signed up! I got such a thrill out of buying my supplies, pictured above.

At our first class, our instructor, Danny Eubanks, asked us to pick a painting to copy. I knew I needed something simple, so I chose Kasmir Malevich’s Head of a Woman (1920). I think she might be menopausal. She’s red in the face and may be exhibiting a touch of brain fog.

The lure of the blank canvas…

Danny had us sketch outlines.


Next, he instructed me to to fill in the area around the woman.

Then she began to take on color.

More Paint

Danny talked to us about mixing paints, applying paints, and what brushes to use.  Gail chose a more complicated piece, Van Gogh’s Japanese Vase with Roses and Anemones.  Her fine motor skills are lots better! She makes jewelry and is skilled with intricate work.


Now it was time to add the stripes to my painting. Some artists use tape to create straight lines.I might have thought that was cheating. Love painter’s tape!

Danny worked for the Sheriff’s Department here in Orange Country, North Carolina, and is now retired. Although he’s been an artist all his life, these days he has plenty of time to work on his paintings and to teach art.

I want to do a geometric next, so here’s one he painted to show me the possibilities. He’s an excellent artist.

Back to my woman with the red head. More stripes!

After four sessions, she was finished. Painting my signature felt like a moment of moments.

Here are Gail’s flowers.

I’m having a great adventure in art class, but I’m willing for Gail and Danny and my mom to outshine me.  As a younger woman, I would have felt competitive and perhaps beat myself up for my lack of talent.

Now, I just want to paint, to have fun with color and design and the camaraderie of my fellow artists. Ah. The liberation of menopause.

But I do wonder what my red-faced woman is thinking. Any clues?